Anime characters with parent issues are dime a dozen, but the mommy and daddy issues these anime characters have are hard to rival. From abandonment issues to tragic deaths of parents, it doesn't get much worse than the situations on this list.
It seems that in the collected world of anime heroes and villains, the governing rule is that functional parents simply can’t exist. Sure, heroes occasionally get mentors, but by and large most anime and manga parents are either no good at the soccer mom game or are gone before they can really make a difference. This is not a landscape of Martha Kents. Main characters are either forced to watch their parents die, leave, or simply never get written in at all.
If you thought Bruce Wayne had some parent issues, the tortured billionaire has nothing on these anime and manga characters who have some serious emotional complexity driving their relationship with their parents.
When you think of anime characters with "mommy issues," the Elric brothers are probably the first to come to mind. After losing their mother as children, the duo dedicates a chunk of their lives to resurrecting her using alchemy. The first episode of the 2003 Fullmetal Alchemist anime series opens with Ed and Al committing the ultimate taboo by trying to bring their mother back from the dead, resulting in Edward losing an arm and leg while Alphonse loses his body entirely.
The rest of the series is spent searching for the Philosopher's Stone- a powerful talisman that supposedly allows the wielder to overcome the rules of equivalent exchange in alchemy. Edward's goal is to bring his brother's body back, so he doesn't have to live in a suit of armor anymore. What's worse is later in the series their mother does actually come back in the form of the homunculus named Sloth, who serves as secretary to King Bradley. The boys unknowingly created her the night they tried to bring their mother back, and Edward is ultimately the one to destroy her by turning her body into ethanol. Someone get this kid some counseling, and fast.
It’s hard out here for a mercenary leader, and no one is more evident of that fact than the shout-happy, demon-killing machine, Guts, the star of Berserk. Raised by an adopted father named Gambino, a mercenary leader himself, Guts spent his entire life learning the trade under borderline cruel, absolutely loveless circumstances.
Gambino was such a monster that he even sold his adopted kid out to a friend for an evening of horror. Granted, Guts ended up murdering his rapist a little bit later, but that doesn’t mean he wasn’t traumatized.
Tohru Honda’s life was shaped, in part, by his mother Kyoko’s teachings. Though she only appears in flashback, her conversations with Tohru have a profound impact. Kyoko was rejected by her parents at an early age and even disowned outright after she participated in a gang fight at school.
Rin Sohma thought she had an idyllic life with her parents, until she asked them if they were happy. That turned out to be a mistake, as the stress of maintaining the facade eventually took its toll. They became abusive and neglectful to the extent that Rin ended up hospitalized with a panic disorder.
In Orange, Naho Takamiya receives several letters from herself 10 years in the future about a boy named Kakeru Naruse who will soon transfer to her high school class. As the specific events in the letter start to come true, she realizes the letters are real and follows their advice to the tee.
In the first episode, Kakeru doesn't come to school for two weeks, which we later learn is because his mother killed herself. As Kakeru opens up to Naho, he explains that much of his life outside of school consisted of taking care of her and appeasing her whims and mental illness. Naho's letters explain later that in her future, Kakeru is overcome with depression and guilt for not protecting his mother, and he commits suicide.
With the help of her friends, Naho manages to convince Kakeru that life is worth living - but he is severely damaged from the experience nonetheless, and his guilt about his mother never goes away.